Grilled Salmon, $18
Hidden within a neighborhood in old Florissant is the quaint and historical Hendel's Market Café. Originally a grocery that opened in the late 1800s, it was converted into a restaurant in 1994. The owners respect the heritage and have kept the building in much of its original form while incorporating some modern updates in the décor. Charming and engaging, Hendel's feels somewhere between walking into a fine dining restaurant and the comfort of your grandmother's home.
With an approachable menu of steaks, seafood and pasta, Hendel's is a great location to dine with family and friends. For this week's dish, I went with the grilled salmon. The filet rests atop puff pastry, drizzled with a flavorful basil pesto sauce and finished off with toasted almonds and diced tomatoes.
The wine list is comfortable and affordable, keeping in tone with popular varietals and recognizable brands. It is easy to navigate and does branch out here and there with some newer regions. A selection of Missouri wines rounds out the list.
2009 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, $6 by the glass
Sauvignon Blanc is a classically perfect pairing for pesto. Plus, I have been tasting a lot of heavy whites and winter reds lately, so this light and zesty wine was a wonderful change of pace. The tropical aromas and flavors took me right away from the dreary and cold winter. The sharp acidity helped the wine to hold its own against the weighty seafood. The lively citrus notes of the wine made a much better addition to the dish than just a simple squeeze of lemon.
2006 Bethlehem Valley Chardonel, Mo., $7.50 by the glass
Chardonel is a hybrid grape widely produced in Missouri. It is a cross between Chardonnay and Seyval grapes. Interested in pairing a local wine with my meal as well as bringing a new texture to the dish, I chose the Bethlehem Valley Chardonel for its butterscotch tones and creamy quality. This wine added richness to the salmon and created a sensation of a butter sauce for the fish.
2006 Pavilion Merlot, Sonoma, Calif., $6 by the glass
One of my preferred red wine pairings for salmon is a fruit-forward Merlot. This rendition out of Sonoma County is smooth and silky, fragrant with scents of dark berries and floral notes and holds flavors of dark cherries, chocolate and cola. The natural fattiness of the fish is perfect for the soft tannins of the wine. An equal match in weight and texture make for a pleasant connection between the food and the wine.
Hendel's Market Café and Piano Bar, 599 Saint Denis St., Florissant, 314.837.2304, hendelsrestaurant.com
STLwinegirl Angela Ortmann gained a passion for all things epicurean by working in the luxury restaurants and hotels of St. Louis and San Francisco. Through her event and consultation business, she is dedicated to enhancing your food and wine experience.